How to stay productive in times of flexible working

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Stay focussed with this advice from author and TED speaker Chris Bailey



4 December 2020 | 0

In association with Jabra

Best-selling author and TED speaker Chris Bailey believes your time is precious. In this piece the productivity expert talks about how to start achieving more and avoid wasting time no matter where you’re working from.

We’re all different

Productivity advice is everywhere. We can spend hours reading about how successful people start their mornings – but this kind of information often isn’t actually benefiting us. We’re all different; we all have different professions and most of us don’t have endless amounts in the bank to be able to live our lives how we see fit. An effective benchmark for productivity advice is asking whether you are getting that time back later because you’re investing in techniques that actually work – for you.




Look around you

What effect does your environment have on your productivity? A huge one. If there is less focus on modifying the way that we work and more on modifying the environment in which we work, we can build havens for productivity. The things around you – like noise, distractions, colleagues and even lighting – are conducive to focus, so make sure to modify the container in which you work so that you can begin to focus better.

The best strategies are self-reinforcing

When you invest in a great productivity technique, for every minute you spend on that exercise, you should make five to 10 minutes back. Take meditation as an example: thanks to its techniques, you’re able to focus deeper, your mind is clearer and you can say no to distraction. So that 15 minutes you spent meditating can actually win you hours of productivity back.

Another strategy that gives back is planning. Mapping out each day saves you time because you consciously choose what to accomplish rather than working on autopilot in response to the work that comes your way.

It’s about how much you accomplish – not how much you produce

When measuring productivity, we tend to be stuck in the mindset that the output is what matters. Yet we can have a huge output and not necessarily accomplish a lot or conversely, we can be our most productive while only actually producing what looks like a small amount of work. This is true when we’re measuring our own productivity, but it’s also true when we’re leading a team to accomplish more. Instead of asking employees what projects they want to get done, ask them what they actually want to accomplish. Shift the focus from output to accomplishments, whatever they may look like.

The rule of three

Most of us struggle to hold multiple ideas in our minds at one time. It was once believed that we could hold five to eight unique chunks of information in our minds at the same time, but now research shows that number is more likely to be around three.

The world around us is shaped by this limitation and because this is the way that we think, we can set priorities for ourselves accordingly on a daily, weekly, quarterly or general basis. You probably have more than three things to do over the span of a day, but if you start by selecting the top three tasks, it helps you identify what is most important. Start each day by asking yourself: By the time that this day is done, what three main things will I want to have accomplished? Write them down and keep those three things in mind while you work.

Listen to the full episode on Apple, Spotify or Google and discover more insights at

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